Reflections On Chrome, Continued

There roam quite a lot of Peugeot 3008 and 308s in my area and generally in Denmark. They have made me think about brightwork and Mercedes.

2018 Peugeot 3008: source

I read recently that Peugeot is climbing up the estimation rankings of consumers in Europe. And I notice that in recent years Peugeot has not been afraid to sprinkle a little and sometimes a lot of brightwork magic on their cars. It seems to be optional but with a lot of uptake. If we think back to maybe ten years ago and further, this kind of thing did not feature much on their cars. It probably had to to with some kind of reticence regarding ostentation. Worthy as that might be, it led to some decent cars looking a lot less attractive than they could have been.

In parallel to this I wonder if I could ask if Peugeot has woken up the enduring appeal of brightwork as demonstrated by our old reference points, the Mercedes of the 1970s?

2019 Peugeot 308 GTi (source)

Apart from a sudden change in fashion nullifying my contention, brightwork would appear to be of enduring appeal. It stays looking attractive even as other styling touche wither. And once a new car ages, it may lose alot but brightwork can signal quality (real or imagined) so as to give a little extra to the second, third and fourth owners. And if that can nudge resale prices back up, you get a long term path to higher residuals and ultimately better first-time transactions.

The 3008 in particular has caught my eye and if you were to ask what a nicelly tinselled car might look like, the 3008 is a good example. Peugeot have probably turned out one of the best looking cross-overs of recent years, which has much to do with the original way the body-trim has been handled. It’s a posh looking vehicle, I contend.

The 508, despite my misgiving about the lamps, is very clearly a good, solid middle class kind of car too, approximating to Buick perhaps. I don’t mean in that it is a huge land-yacht but that it is a decently comfortable and sufficiently luxurious-looking car to appeal to middle-class drivers who don’t want to show off and maybe don’t want to slum it. Opel’s current Astra estate, with the chrome DLO strip achieved much the same end.

(c) Autocar

There are other factors in Peugeot’s resurgence. I think the willingness to show off with some chrome is a reflection of that but also a signal to customers to look again. Interestingly and confoundingly, the 508 does not have much by way of brightwork, not even as an option. While I understand not everyone wants this, some very much do so it is a puzzle that for the want of 50 euros of chrome strip, Peugeot have alienated that upper-middle customer.

Ford, Opel and Renault have not been shy about offering a bechromed version of their larger cars, so it seems unclear as to why Peugeot has reverted to 405, 406 type and left their otherwise pretty decent contender a bit barer in the showroom than it might be. If you want to steal sales from Mercedes, don’t offer any excuses to dodge a sale.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

9 thoughts on “Reflections On Chrome, Continued”

  1. Chrome or stainless steel, used appropriately, does certainly lend a car an air of elegance, especially if it has dark coloured paintwork. I was struck by a nearly new BMW 7 Series I saw recently. The car was black, with black alloy wheels and no brightwork around the DLO. Far from looking sinister and menacing (the supposed intention) it looked like a giant, formless blob of a thing, especially so as it was a bit dirty.

    On a related topic, I wonder why Mercedes-Benz insists that UK buyers of the C and E-Class have to make do with the “sports” grille rather than the traditional chromed item? Not every potential buyer wants their car to look like an AMG clone.

    1. Yes, it’s a shame. However, the ‘sports’ grille is meant to have more appeal to younger people and the huge star in the grille advertises the brand very strongly (and is a convenient place behind which to hide all the radar / sensor gubbins).

      No more hood ornament cosies, though.

  2. Regarding brightwork on the 308 – There’s a real puzzle here as to where the door shuts in the DLO are (having not seen one with the rear passenger doors open).

    There’s a clear split in the brightwork along the bottom edge of the window on the trailing edge of the door that hints at frameless windows, but surely this can’t be the case. It’s so odd -it looks like both the trim stays on the car body when opening, but it also looks like it stays on the door.

    It can’t be both, unless they’ve mastered the warping of basic principles of physics. I’d love to see a picture of one with that door open so the puzzle can be solved (I’m not one for staking out Pugs in Supermarket car-parks 🙂 )

    1. I stumbled over the same question as well. My guess is that both pieces stay on the door. Probably a three-sided piece of brightwork would be too expensive to manufacture or cumbersome to handle. To make the split seem more natural, they placed it as a continuation of the door shutline below.

    2. Yes – the chrome stays on the door. See 8.48 in the film, below.

    3. Thanks for the video – mystery solved! How weird that there’s that fake shut line! I really can’t see why they did that.

  3. The use of chrome seems to change with the trends in auto fashion. In the U.S. 1958 remains as the apex of chrome overindulgence, thankfully. The mid ’60’s into the ’70s produced some pretty clean design in America. Think 1961 Lincoln Continental, 1963 Buick Riviera, and 1970 Chevrolet Camaro. The loss of metal bumpers resulted in more highly colored cars, as the body color was applied to greater areas. (After the black rubber bumper phase had played out!) I too dislike an all black car especially if includes black wheels and darkly tinted windows. I agree that the tasteful application of chrome trim to modern cars is like the tasteful wearing of jewelry, some self restraint is called for. My old ’97 Jaguar XJ6 has a lot of brightwork. The door frames and window surrounds. the bumper facings, grille and even those somewhat tacky wheel arch trims. Even so, I love looking at the thing!

  4. When ordering our XC60 about 6 months ago we became aware of the ‘chrome is status’ hierarchy in the world of Volvo, which made us laugh I have to confess. Our lowly Momentum model doesn’t have any chrome around the DLO at all and has silver painted alloy wheels. We wanted dark side glass, but could only specify it in a package that came with chrome DLO trim which, shock horror, we didn’t want, so we had the dealer arrange for tinting to be done locally. Likewise I really dislike the fashion for ‘diamond cut’ polished alloys, so we left the ‘proper’ alloys on the spec. list.

    What we have ended up with in our eyes is something that looks much nicer than if it were bedecked with chrome, though I have to confess it does look very dull as soon as it gets dirty, which doesn’t seem to affect the bling versions so much.

    Beauty in the eyes of the beholder I suppose!

  5. Mercedes designers tried many times to move beyond chrome or blacked out trim since W201 in 1982.

    W140’s smoky bronze-ish plating around the DLO was especially unusual, it tended to weather a bit over time developing a pearlescent patina, the effect would vary depending on viewing angle and lighting. Many owners thought of it as a defect.

    Also notice the slightly pink-tinted lens covering the trim strip containing the reverse lights.

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